Lynch Mob Scene from The Conquest of Canaan (1921)
Labor Day Weekend. It was Cinecon time once again, where I view old and rare films looking for diamonds in the rough, Like last year, however, this year’s Cinecon meet was changed into an online event because of the Covid-19 resurgence.
I have seen the first two days’ programs and am looking forward to the next two days. So far, I have seen four features:
Dynamite Dan (1924), directed by H. Bruce Mitchell, a typical Horatio Alger type story involving boxing
Rendezvous with Annie (1946), directed by Allan Dwan, one of the cinema’s most underrated directors, here treating a Preston Sturges-like script
Blue Blazes Rawden (1918), directed by and starring William S. Hart, which I had seen before, set in the Pacific Northwest in a lumberjack camp
The Conquest of Canaan (1921), directed by Roy William Neill—who gave us the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films
A Brilliant Comedy by an Underrated Filmmaker
By far the best of the four films were The Conquest of Canaan and Rendezvous with Annie. The older film was shot on location in Asheville, NC, and dealt with a community run by a hypocritical judge and newspaper publisher that persecutes a young man and even sends a mob against him—though the young man triumphs in the end. The other film is about a corporal in WW2 London who goes AWOL for a weekend to visit his wife and impregnate her, only to be shocked when he has difficulty proving the child is his.
Allan Dwan had a long, distinguished career directing films from all the way back in 1911 and ending fifty years later in 1961. Perhaps my favorites among his films are Brewster’s Millions (1945), Silver Lode (1954), and his greatest, Slightly Scarlet (1956). To date I have seen only a small sliver of his output: 32 films from the silent and sound eras.
I won’t pretend that the films shown by Cinecon are among the greatest ever made, but they are almost all rarely seen and worthy productions. Each year, there are some great surprises in the pictures screened. For more info, click here. Be sure to check out the schedule page.
I remember my first passenger flight in 1959, from Cleveland to West Palm Beach via Jacksonville. It was like a special privilege. Other kids in the neighborhood expressed jealousy. It was only a prop plane, but we were to be served a special meal enroute with china and silverware.
Half a century later, I hesitate to fly any American carriers, mainly because the majority of passengers are American citizens; and I have lost my faith in my fellow Americans. I would rather take a European, Canadian, or Latin American carrier because the people on board are more likely to be better behaved.
Most of the fights that break out are related to the wearing of masks by rabid Trumpites who in their minds (such as they are) think that Covid-19 is fake news. People have to risk sickening and dying because of such asininity?
I like the idea of severe penalties for bad behavior on a flight. If I didn’t have to go through a thorough inspection at the airport, I would travel with a set of brass knuckles to help subdue violent passengers. Fortunately, the chances of needing them are minimal on Linea Aerea Nacional (LAN), Volaris, Air Canada, or Icelandair.
Unless American carriers take decisive action against passengers committing air rage, they will not get my business.
Today I accompanied Martine to the Access Pharmacy in Westwood where she received the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine (AKA Janssen Covid-19 Vaccine).
Martine is a person of monumental stubbornness, so I was surprised that she decided to get the vaccine. In all honesty, it wasn’t my impeccable persuasiveness that did the trick: Her tête de Normande (referring to her Norman French stubbornness) was swayed by the Los Angeles City Council, which was going to make it hard for her to go to restaurants, movies, museums, etc. without either a vaccination card or a weekly Covid test.
Whatever the reason, I am delighted that she has disobeyed the KABC shock jocks and consented to possibly save her life.
After months of bullyragging Martine about not getting her Covid-19 vaccination, Martine has finally made an appointment to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine tomorrow. There have been harsh words spoken by me (“That’s because you get all your info from Nazi radio!” “KABC Talk Radio is not Nazi radio!”). But the LA City Council’s unanimous vote on requiring vaccination proof for restaurants and other indoor locales finally did the trick.
I see this as a victory over the shock jocks of KABC, which I persist in referring to as Nazi radio.May all of them come down with Covid-19 complicated with a few other embarrassing ailments!
Since she made the appointment, Martine has been Googling all the negative info she could find about the shots, so I hope she doesn’t back down at the last minute.
I used to work at Urban Decision Systems with a Vice President named Jay W. McBride, whom I liked and respected. Once, when I complained about another VP, Jay said that he was a “sosh,” pronounced like the beginning of the word “social.” As Jay was a lifelong Mormon, I wondered if this was a term used in his background to describe people who were essentially social butterflies.
One thing I am not is a sosh. That’s why I did not find the Covid-19 quarantine particularly onerous. I made a point to contact my friends regularly over the phone, but I did not attend any super-spreader events frequented by people who could not stay away from large groupings of their social cohort.
By now, I and most of my friends have been vaccinated. (Martine continues to be a holdout, but, like me, she’s not a sosh.) I have visited with my good friends from San Pedro and Altadena, and look forward to re-establishing several other connections.
But will I ever attend a large party? Perhaps. If I do, I will probably arrive late and leave early, as is my wont. I derive little pleasure from talking in person to many people, particularly if they are strangers.
Having been vaccinated for Covid-19, I have, in effect, rejoined society. I am now visiting my friends who have likewise been vaccinated. Not coming with me, however, is Martine, who refuses to be vaccinated.
Martine is no anti-vaxxer who believes that nano-sized microchips are injected into the body with each shot. She is simply afraid of most medications, whether in pill or injectable form. Her doctor wants her to take Vitamin D3 supplements, but she gets an adverse reaction if she goes beyond a minimal dose.
I have long suspected that the Covid-19 Vaccination Record Card is going to be a useful piece of paper, whether for travel or work. Despite the efforts by Republican governors to outlaw mandating the card for this purpose, I think they will fail. Until I got the vaccine, even my own doctor did not want to see me: I had several “visits” in the form of telephone calls.
It is my hope that eventually Martine will get vaccinated. Martine’s family comes from Normandy in France. She therefore has what the French call a tête de Normande, in effect a head like granite block—impervious to argument. Perhaps she will eventually see the light, but she won’t take action based solely on my urging.
Los Angeles Central Library at 5th and Flower Streets
Today I took the train in to Downtown Los Angeles (or DTLA, as it is also known) to return some library books and pick up the next batch. For the first time in almost a year and a quarter, I was able to enter the library, hand my returns to a human being, and pick up the next batch. The last time, I had to call on my cell phone and have a librarian come out with the bagged books I had put on hold.
Now the ground floor of the library is open. This includes the book check-in and check-out and the international languages department—oh, and the restrooms. For any other books, I still have to put them on hold using the library’s website.
With my books in hand, I took the Dash Bus B to Chinatown and looked for a promising Chinese restaurant that was open to indoor dining. My old standby, the Hong Kong Barbecue, was still take-out only; but I found a good option in the Hop Woo Chinese Seafood Restaurant, just a few doors down, where I had rock cod in black bean sauce.
On the way back to Union Station, I bought my usual small bag of limes from an elderly woman (only $1 for about eight limes). As the weather grows warmer, I am addicted to fresh-squeezed lime juice with a slight splash of tequila.
I still had to wear a face mask on the train and the bus, resulting in fogged-up glasses, but I am encouraged that sometime soon we will be able to dispense with them. My second Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination was two months ago, so I am hopeful that the worst is past.
What Comes First? The Death of the Republican Party or the Death of Our Democracy?
As much as I hate talking about politics in America, I cannot shut up when I see one of our two political parties attempt to destroy the country even as they destroy their own party. It’s like a race to the bottom—that shit pit of death cults and failed states.
I can hardly believe that over 70 million Americans have drunk the Republicans’ poisoned Kool-Aid. I regret to say that the woman I love is one of them. Martine not only refuses to get the shots protecting against Covid-19, but she keeps trying to show me “evidence” from right-wing websites which the AM talk radio pundits cite for their over-the-air lies. Take a look at Natural Health News for its take Defending Health, Life and Liberty (followed, of course, by the obligatory American flag).
These people are the enemy. Follow their advice, and risk dying. Martine is convinced that the Covid shots are more dangerous than the disease they were formulated to fight. She says that her health is too fragile for the shots. How would she fare, however, if she contracted the coronavirus? Better? I don’t think so.
If Martine doesn’t want to take the vaccine, I’m not going to force her. But I have nothing but contempt for her “news” sources. The Republican cultists have created their own plastic bubble of destructive falsehoods in which they, and perhaps ultimately all of us, are weakening and perhaps failing.
The Martin Droeshout Portrait of Shakespeare for the First Folio
Today is the 457th birthday of William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon. In my lifetime so far, I have read all the plays attributed to Shakespeare and about half of the poems. Many of the plays I have read multiple times, the leader being Hamlet. Currently, I am re-reading The Winter’s Tale, and, in the months to come, I hope to revisit several other of my favorite comedies, such as Measure for Measure, All’s Well That Ends Well, The Tempest, and Twelfth Night.
I know it would be better to see the plays performed. But even if Covid-19 were still not on the rampage, it’s not easy to see the Bard in performance. So I must reconcile myself to reading the plays.
All in all, he wrote some forty plays, most alone, but some in partnership with other playwrights. No, I do not think that Francis Bacon wrote his plays, nor the Earl of Southampton, nor Wile E. Coyote. I suppose I could live my life in an alternate universe like Donald Trump’s supporters, but I much prefer the real world. Consequently, I am not interested in doubting his authorship. After all, we probably know more about the Bard than we know about any of his contemporaries.
If you like Shakespeare as much as I do, I have a film to recommend: Jacques Rivette’s Paris nous appartient (Paris Belongs to Us) is about a group of young Parisians putting on a performance of Pericles, Prince of Tyre—not one of Shakespeare’s best plays, and one most likely not 100% written by him, but definitely fun for all Bardaholics.
The Adventist Health.White Memorial Medical Plaza in East Los Angeles
Today, I drove Martine for an ophthalmologist appointment in East Los Angeles. I went up to the waiting room with her, but was asked to leave because of social distancing requirements. So what happened? I had to stand in the corridor, which was full of other family members who weren’t really social distancing. And there wasn’t any seating to be had.
There is a bridge over César Chavez Boulevard (visible in the above photo), which would be an ideal place to sit—except it was posted all over with signs saying that, because of social distancing, no one may sit down there.
Perhaps one cannot catch the ’Rona when one is on one’s feet. At least, that seems to be the prevailing assumption. If the medical receptionist can’t see you in the corridor, then presumably you are, by definition, social distancing. ¡Que idiota!